New soundscape project following the tracks and traditions of Soundscapes and Cultural Sustainability has started
Silence and Listening as Resources of Tourism Expertise in North Karelia
Soundscape researchers’ project aims to develop the silence of North Karelia into a tourism asset. The scenic beauty and sparse population of the region offer good opportunities to experience silence. Silence does not mean a total lack of sounds but a possibility to relax – alone or in a group.
The project deals with the earlier presented entry about “the modern wilderness” and creates more precise contents to it. The idea of emphasising attraction, well-being and aesthetic quality of the environment that is close to nature now expands to practices in tourism business. By examining the tourism business, the project will explore the challenges and possibilities of preserving the silence of different areas in North Karelia as well. Especially consideration of silence and soundscape, as well as active listening, can be used as concrete tools in tourism by utilizing methods and experience of Soundscape Studies.
The project has a network of silence-based tourism, which now includes approximately twenty companies from Ilomantsi, Joensuu, Lieksa, Nurmes, and Valtimo area. The project develops services, in which silence is a natural part of the service, for tourism companies, entrepreneurs and local societies, considering their individual starting points. During the year-long preparations, many of the entrepreneurs in the project have already been looking for new ways to develop contents of silence services. Concrete ways of service are emphasised in workshops that are run by experts.
The aim of the project is still to start off the promotion of nature and culture tourism in North Karelia on a good start, and thus to increase the attraction of the area. The aim is to improve and redevelop the contents of service businesses by supporting immaterial services and livelihoods of the area. Silence and experiences in an acoustic environment cannot be given or sold as ready-made commodities. It is, however, possible to offer services and time in a special, nuanced, and silent environment instead. This way, the project and North Karelia for their part answer to the rising trends of “slow tourism” and ecotourism.
The project utilizes the knowledge of soundscape experts at the University of Eastern Finland and their long experience in Cultural and Soundscape Studies and in listening of acoustic elements of the environment. The director of the project is Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä, an expert of Soundscape Studies. The project manager is the designer of the project, Noora Vikman, who has long been interested especially in the phenomena of silent environment and its possibilities. The project also involves a group of postgraduates in Cultural Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, who are interested in the acoustic environment.
The two-year project, in 2013-2014, is financed by the ELY Centre of North Karelia (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment)
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